Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks 10/30/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Dallas Mavericks looked to bounce back from a tough loss in their season opener when they faced the Utah Jazz on Thursday night. The Mavs lost a heartbreaker to the Spurs on Tuesday, and faced a tough test from an athletic young Jazz roster on Thursday.

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Utah Jazz Future as Bright as Its Depth Chart Is Murky

The Utah Jazz have stockpiled a lot of young talent over the past couple of years. They’ve taken full advantage of the benefits attached to losing by building with first-round picks. 

Trey Burke, Alex Burks, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Dante Exum, Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood—all of these guys were personally hand-picked by Utah management in the draft.

And there’s a lot to like about each individually. The Jazz missed on Paul George in 2010 and Kawhi Leonard in 2011, but for the most part, they’ve done pretty well for themselves based on the hand the lottery dealt them.

But now they’re looking at a core with Hayward, 24, the oldest guy of the bunch. The Jazz won just 25 games last year, and though we’ll likely see some encouraging improvements in 2014-15, it’s probably going to be another long, losing season.

Utah will have some personnel decisions to make soon with regard to their rebuilding plan. And here’s the fear—that the Jazz end up committing to a roster that’s ceiling is capped by logjams and limited individual upside. 

And it starts at point guard, despite the Jazz having two promising options at the position. 

Utah went with a worry-about-it-later approach by taking Exum, a point guard, one year after Burke. And the fit isn’t overly convincing. 

You’d imagine the ultimate goal here long term is for the two to play together, which means that Exum must play off the ball, given Burke stands just 6’1″ and probably wouldn’t fare to well at the 2. 

But by playing Exum off the ball, it forces him to play to his weaknesses as a shooter and away from his strengths as a playmaker.

And it takes away from what drove his massive appeal in the first place—Exum has the potential to be a monster mismatch at the point. Not at shooting guard, where he’ll have the ball less and likely draw bigger defensive wings.

As long as Burke is on the floor, Exum‘s playmaking opportunities will be limited. 

“I think I’m still comfortable at the point,” Exum told Jody Genessy of the Deseret News following one of his summer league games. “I still want to get the ball in my hands as much as possible. I didn’t get it a lot in my hands these last couple of games.”

Based on the look of things, it seems as if the Jazz plan on grooming Burke, who’s clearly more ready to run the team right now, as their floor general moving forward. 

A skeptic with regard to Utah’s strategy might argue that Exum is losing valuable early reps to a guy whose ceiling is a few stories lower. Burke might help the Jazz win more games in 2014-15, but is that worth jeopardizing the development and possible future of a potentially more rewarding player in Exum down the road?

You worry that Burke’s presence will prevent Exum from ever taking off and that Burke himself will eventually hit the wall. One of the reasons why eight teams passed on him in a weak draft was because of his lack of perceived upside.  

The frontcourt situation in Utah is also somewhat murky. Management recently made the decision not to extend Kanter, a likely result of his questionable fit alongside Derrick Favors, whom the team is heavily invested in.

Favors and Kanter have had some issues gelling together. It’s not surprising—both of them live in the paint and essentially crowd each other’s space. That’s why coach Quin Snyder has had Kanter working on his three-ball—to stretch the floor and give each big man a little more room to score.

But anyone who’s watched Kanter over the years knows that’s not his game. 

Regardless, he should draw plenty of interest next summer on the restricted free-agent market, but with Favors at the 5 and promising center Rudy Gobert waiting to blow up, the Jazz might want to pocket that money and save it on a different need. 

If Utah decides it doesn’t feel it’s right to lose a starter for nothing, it will likely be forced to overpay and commit to a frontcourt that lacks natural cohesion.

Moving back to the backcourt, the Jazz will also have a decision to make on Alec Burks, who has until midnight October 31 to agree to an extension or he too will become a restricted free agent next summer.

Grantland’s Zach Lowe shared what he believed will take to lock him up: 

A four-year, $28 million extension might seem an overpay given Burks’s record, but it could turn into the new TV-deal version of those $4 million–level extensions teams gave Thabo Sefolosha, Quincy Pondexter, and Jared Dudley. Those deals weren’t home runs, but they provided good value at most times, and can return actual assets in trades.

The Jazz must decide whether to pay around $7 million a year today or risk him erupting in 2014-15 and drawing much greater interest as a free agent. 

If Utah does bring back Burks, and it eventually ends up moving forward with Burke as the long-term answer at point guard to pair with Hayward, who’s making around $15 million a year, and Favors, who’s making $12 million, then chances are this is the same core Jazz fans will be looking at in a few years.

It looks promising now, but relative to the brutal western conference, is this a group we should expect to make significant noise even in two or three seasons?

They could have room to sign a quality restricted free agent, but the Jazz haven’t exactly been known for luring them in recently. 

This is a fun team to watch and one that’s only going to improve. Burke looks poised for a more efficient season, as does Hayward, who spent time with U.S.A. basketball this summer. Favors took a step last year. So did Burks. 

But now the big question—how much upside do each of these guys have left in the tank, and will their fit together in Utah make it possible for them to reach it?

Hopefully, the Jazz don’t find themselves stuck in nowhere land—not good enough to compete for the playoffs, not bad enough to land a top draft pick and not attractive enough to bring in any impact names. 

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Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz 10/24/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Phoenix Suns looked to continue their strong preseason with a victory on Friday night over the Utah Jazz. The Suns were one of the most surprising teams in the NBA last season but faced a tough test from a talented young Jazz squad.

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Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder 10/21/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Oklahoma City Thunder looked to score a preseason victory when they faced the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night. The Thunder were still adjusting to life without the injured Kevin Durant, and faced a tough test from the talented Jazz.

Watch the video for full highlights

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Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers 10/19/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Utah Jazz squared off against the Los Angeles Lakers in a preseason matchup Sunday night. 

Kobe and the Lakers find themselves in unfamiliar territory, struggling to remain relevant in the fiercely competitive Western Conference. 

The Jazz won just 25 games a season ago and will need to get in a rhythm to avoid another disastrous campaign this season. 

Watch the video for full highlights.

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Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Live Score, Highlights and Reaction

Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and the Utah Jazz will get their second preseason meeting with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday in L.A.

The Jazz won the first meeting by a final score of 119-86.

 

Tipoff: 9:30 p.m. ET

Coverage: TWC SN/Root Sports

 

Keys to the Game

The Jazz overwhelmed the Lakers with a combination of athleticism and balanced scoring in the first game. Five players reached double figures, and 10 scored at least seven. If they push the pace again, the Lakers defense is likely to look every bit as hapless.

For L.A., this preseason continues to be about how Kobe Bryant looks. He scored 27 in the first meeting against Utah, but it took 23 shots to get there. Age and injuries have clearly taken their toll, so much of this season could be about adjusting for him.

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Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers 10/17/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Los Angeles Clippers looked to score a preseason win on Friday night, when they faced the Utah Jazz.

The Clippers were one of the NBA‘s best, most explosive teams last season, but they faced a tough test from a young Jazz roster. 

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Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers 10/16/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz squared off on Thursday night in a preseason clash of teams looking to bounce back from disappointing showings.

Both the Lakers and Jazz looked to improve on lackluster performances last season, and Thursday’s game gave them a chance to prove they’d made strides during the offseason.

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Which Utah Jazz Training Camp Invitee Could Make the Roster?

The plight of an NBA training camp invitee is that almost nothing, outside of a long shot at a dream, is guaranteed.

On a team as young as the Utah Jazz, though, the chances of such a player making the final roster are understandably higher than the league average.

Utah’s entering just the second year of a complete overhaul. An unknown like Brock Motum or Jack Cooley could wind up playing a few regular-season minutes. Toure’ Murry could be a third point guard behind Trey Burke and combo guard Dante Exum. Veteran Dahntay Jones could be another stabilizing presence along with Steve Novak.

All four can’t make the team, though.

Utah currently has 13 players with guaranteed contracts this season. That puts them right at the NBA minimum. The league max is 15.

Jazz brass has yet to make a peep about how many players the team intends to carry into the regular season. That means there are four players—Motum, Cooley, Murry and Jones—competing for two potential roster spots.

There are cases, both positive and negative, to be made for all four.

 

Brock Motum, PF, 6’10″

To fans who didn’t follow Utah’s summer league, Motum is likely the biggest unknown of this group. The Australian forward played four years of college ball at Washington State, then spent the 2013-14 campaign in Italy with Granarolo Bologna.

During his senior campaign with the Cougars, Motum led the Pac-12 in both usage (30.6) and points per game (18.7). His success there didn’t translate to an NBA deal, but he was solid enough in Italy to grab the attention of the Jazz.

Utah picked up Motum before the 2014 summer league, where he quickly became a fan favorite due to his energy and basketball IQ.

His averages of eight points and 4.6 rebounds in 17.2 minutes don’t jump off the page, but hustle plays like this leapt off computer and television screens.

Motum has also shown hints of stretch-4 capabilities, something Jazz coach Quin Snyder would love for his free-flowing, space-oriented motion offense. In college, he made 88 threes and shot 35.3 percent from downtown.

Finally, Motum‘s cultural connection to Exum can’t be ignored.

The rookie point guard will be adjusting to more than just the NBA game. He’s in a new country, one in which his Aussie teammate has spent over four years. The experience Motum has gained could be passed on to Exum, slightly speeding up his acclimation to his new life.

On the flip side, the team already has plenty of big men with guaranteed contracts on the roster, which is partly why he’s yet to log a single minute of preseason action. The other factor is that he’s not terribly skilled, or at least not at anything that isn’t already provided by at least one of the other bigs.

 

Jack Cooley, PF, 6’9″

Like Motum, Cooley spent his first season of professional basketball overseas. After four years at Notre Dame, he spent the 2013-14 season in Turkey with Trabzonspor, where he averaged 12.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in 22.9 minutes.

He does a lot of the same things Motum does, without quite the same range. Cooley’s biggest advantage in that head-to-head comparison is his rebounding prowess.

  Totals
Player Season School G MP 3P 3PA ORB DRB TRB
Jack Cooley 2012-13 Notre Dame 35 1026 1 2 141 213 354
Brock Motum 2012-13 Washington State 32 1131 45 134 61 140 201
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 10/15/2014.

What it ultimately comes down to is who the coaching staff thinks will make the regular bigs better in practice. If Snyder thinks Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert need to work on covering a slightly more perimeter-oriented player, he’ll go with Motum. If he wants someone who will bang inside, Cooley would probably get the nod.

The argument against adding Cooley is similar to Motum as well. In addition to the aforementioned bigs, Utah also has Trevor Booker, Jeremy Evans and Steve Novak fighting for minutes inside.

 

Tour’e Murry, PG, 6’5″

As a rookie last season, Murry appeared 51 times, averaging 2.7 points in 7.3 minutes for the New York Knicks.

Again, the numbers don’t exactly stand out, but Murry has the advantage of playing point guard. While Utah’s roster is fairly crowded up front, there’s plenty of room for a 1.

Burke and Exum are the only two point guards on the roster right now, and the latter figures to spend some of his time at shooting guard this season. A third guard gives the Jazz some insurance in the backcourt.

If he does make the roster, Murry isn’t likely to have a role bigger than Diante Garrett did last season (14.8 minutes per game for the Jazz). Still, he could be the guy to push the rotation guards in practice.

 

Dahntay Jones, SG/SF, 6’6″

Following Utah’s first preseason victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, Dahntay Jones had this to say about his role on the team, per Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune:

I’m here to work. I’m here to defend, and bring leadership. I’m here to keep the ball moving and to make sure guys are talking on defense and to be a part of this developing team…

I definitely feel like I can lead these guys in the right direction. I feel like I’ve been on too many good teams to not be able to share my experience.

Jones’ view of himself as a member of the Jazz is spot on. He won’t need to provide much, if anything, beyond the intangibles listed above.

On the youngest team in the NBA, one more veteran could be a great asset for Snyder, someone who can be an extension of the coach in huddles and on the bench.

What’s working against Jones is the same thing Cooley and Motum are fighting. Utah already has solid wings on the roster in Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Rodney Hood. The wing isn’t quite as crowded as the frontcourt, but it’s also not as open as the backcourt.

 

Verdict

 

Based on team needs, Murry seems the likeliest candidate for a spot on the final roster. If Utah ends up carrying 15 guys, Jones could join him.

The problem for Motum and Cooley, as stated above, is that Utah simply has too many players in front of them. Both do nice things on the floor but nothing that sets them apart from the rest of the bigs.

Murry gives the team a third point guard, and Jones is a wing who may provide tougher defense than the rotation players.

Whoever gets the eventual nod will be living out a dream, whether it’s the realization, continuation or resurrection of it.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats and salary figures are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and RealGM.

Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him @AndrewDBailey.

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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz 10/7/14: Video Highlights and Recap

After a season that saw the franchise capture its first playoff-series victory in 13 years, the Portland Trail Blazers took on the Utah Jazz in their first preseason contest.

Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge looked to continue last season’s strong performance and push the Blazers closer to contention in the West.

Watch the video for full highlights.

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